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the neutrino dance

Comments on the neutrino dance

libertygrl
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Posted 05/31/16 - 4:08 PM:
Subject: the neutrino dance
physicsworld.com/cws/articl...d-communication-is-a-first

lately i've been thinking a lot about neutrinos. they're tiny particles that get scattered everywhere when a star goes supernova. scientists have been trying to harness their power to transmit information.

i've been speculating that maybe high concentrations of neutrinos passing through our atmosphere might spur bursts of evolutionary change. possibly something radical like gene mutation or something more subtle like a wave of sudden mood swings.

what if the holocaust could be traced to a specific cloud of neutrinos, or the salem witch trials? or man walking upright for the first time? or the renaissance, or the enlightenment? the industrial revolution?

if it could be determined for certain that such spurts in human evolution (or "devolution" as the case may be) were attributable to neutrinos, what impact does this have on our perception of morality or of free will? that we maybe have even less than we thought? could it lead to greater empathy? or lesser?

food for thought.
henry quirk
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Posted 06/01/16 - 8:31 AM:

Well, it's a massless particle, so small that as it speeds through the universe, it touches nuthin', is touched by nuthin'. Just to verify it, the detector has to be way underground, isolated from all interference. Way more likely that smoke offa my cigarette will inspire mutation.

But...

Let's say the speedy, elusive lil bugger is responsible for all manner of event...I suggest we take up arms and eliminate it...every man, woman, and child can be fitted with an N-trap, a kind of particle sink (a variation of what was used in 1912 Helsinki to close the portal in Cthulhu's big ugly face)...capture the neutrinos and lock 'em away on Rykers before they do more mutatin'.

ACLU will, of course, protest the inhumane treatment, and particle-huggers will march and riot, but, fuck those people...goddamned neutrinos...mucking about...evolving folks without permission...it's an OUTRAGE!

Down with neutrinos!

Kill the neutrinos!
Paul
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Posted 06/01/16 - 1:32 PM:

I don't see how it matters to the free will question what method evolution uses. Isn't it all the same if mutations are caused by cosmic rays, UV from the sun, insect bites or climate change? Your question seems to imply that simply knowing the details more precisely changes things in some way for someone who already accepted evolution, and I don't think it does. If you take knowing every step to an extreme then you get determinism, which some people do think precludes free will, though I disagree. I disagree both with determinism and the notion that it would preclude free will if determinism were true -- actually I think we'd be more free in a deterministic universe than we are in this slightly in-deterministic universe, because there'd be no randomness interrupting our processes of choice. Being able to describe why and how someone makes a choice doesn't make it any less their choice, the notion that it does comes from an implicit dualism where one imagines the self as an entity external to the universe which is somehow reaching into the world to make choices (whereas I think the self is a completely integrated part of the world, and thus even if we can fully explain how the self came to be in a particular state that state is still one of making a free choice because there's no metaphysically-coherent concept of being freer than that -- just a confused wish to be outside the universe).

At any rate, to my [admittedly sketchy] understanding mutation rates have almost nothing to do with the speed of evolution. Environmental pressures are what have caused all the rapid spurts of evolution.

or the renaissance, or the enlightenment? the industrial revolution?

Please note social events like these aren't evolution, there's no genetic change involved. We are not the slightest big genetically smarter than our cave-dwelling ancestors of 10,000 years ago, we just stand on the shoulders of giants (and most of us have better nutrition which actually does raise IQ but doesn't affect genetics).

Edited by Paul on 06/01/16 - 1:47 PM
libertygrl
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Posted 06/01/16 - 3:50 PM:

Well, it's a massless particle, so small that as it speeds through the universe, it touches nuthin', is touched by nuthin'. Just to verify it, the detector has to be way underground, isolated from all interference. Way more likely that smoke offa my cigarette will inspire mutation.


here's a link that discusses the possibility of mutation from neutrino exposure:

www.nytimes.com/1996/01/23/...nction.html?pagewanted=all

something to consider henry et al:

neuroscientists have found that butterflies can remember things from when they were a caterpillar. how is this possible? when a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis, their innards become liquid and reassemble into the physical structure of a butterfly. where is the memory being stored? i think this has potent implications as to the nature of memory. what if neutrinos can store memory?

and what if there were (however unlikely) a way to bottle neutrinos and sell them? a russian roulette that could potentially accelerate your evolution or allow you to interface with beings from other star systems. would that concept sound appealing?

food for thought.
libertygrl
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Posted 06/01/16 - 4:01 PM:

paul wrote:
Please note social events like these aren't evolution, there's no genetic change involved.

i think of social evolution as a form of evolution, albeit perhaps not in the way a biologist would think of it. but what else would you call social evolution?

paul wrote:
I don't see how it matters to the free will question what method evolution uses.


Let me see what you think of this. One of the prevailing theories to explain the Salem witch trials was that the New Englanders had suffered ergot poisoning which causes hallucinations and insanity. Recently watched the movie The Witch which, although telling the story from a supernatural angle, is nonetheless consistent with the ergot theory. I guess it's the difference between a guilty plea by reason of insanity vs. sheer hatred and malice. Would we think less harshly of Hitler's gestapo if we knew for certain they merely suffered a collective insanity that could not have been prevented?
thedoc
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Posted 07/02/16 - 1:51 PM:

First of all neutrinos don't interact with much at all, and there are billions or trillions or more passing through your body every second without doing anything, so the possibility of neutrinos triggering evolution is way down on the list of subatomic particles that could trigger mutations and evolution. Photons are numerous like neutrinos and photons are much more reactive than neutrinos, but there are few harmful effects to be worried about.
thedoc
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Posted 07/02/16 - 2:00 PM:

Paul wrote:

Please note social events like these aren't evolution, there's no genetic change involved. We are not the slightest big genetically smarter than our cave-dwelling ancestors of 10,000 years ago, we just stand on the shoulders of giants (and most of us have better nutrition which actually does raise IQ but doesn't affect genetics).


If after several generations the individuals are becoming better adapted to the changed environment, then evolution has happened. Individuals do not evolve, they are the same individual from birth to death, but there may be some change that is passed on to the next generation. The accumulation of these changes is evolution.
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